The first reactions to Ang Lee and Will Smith's sci-fi thriller, Gemini Man, lay lots of praise on the film's technical elements. Initially conceived all the way back in 1997, Gemini Man spent about two decades stuck in development and went through a whole string of directors (including, the late Curtis Hanson and Tony Scott) and leading actors (Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwood, Nicolas Cage, and more) before Lee and Smith signed on in 2017. As a result, David Benioff (Game of Thrones), Darren Lemke (Shazam!), and Billy Ray (Overlord) are all credited for writing different script drafts.
Of course, there's a valid reason for Gemini Man's numerous delays and changes in creative personnel. The movie's story pits an aging hitman against his twenty-five year old clone, and the plan was always to use CGI to create a younger version of the film's leading man. However, if the initial reactions to Gemini Man are any indication, the final result may actually be worth the long, long wait it took to become a reality.
Gemini Man held its first press screenings recently, and the journalists and/or critics in attendance have since taken to Twitter to share their impressions of the film. So far, the response has been very positive, with much of the acclaim being directed towards the movie's combined use of 3D, high frame rate (HFR) cinematography, and CGI to create Smith's younger clone. For more, read the SPOILER-FREE reactions embedded below.
There’s one scene in #GeminiMan where old Smith and young Smith have an all-out brawl with one another. It’s pretty amazing to watch. I asked Ang Lee how they executed that sequence, and he said it was so involved it took 9 months to complete. 9 months for a fight scene! pic.twitter.com/aPq0RwTRSD— Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) September 18, 2019
Ang Lee’s #GeminiMan is a huge breakthrough for 120FPS presentation. Action sequences are breathtaking in the format. Will Smith’s winning performance shows the level of scrutiny a real movie star can stand up to. If you don’t see it in theaters you’re missing a true experience. pic.twitter.com/k6nlyH6kD9— Max Evry (@maxevry) September 18, 2019
Just saw #GeminiMan and it’s wiiiiiiild. The young version of Wil Smith is incredible, plus some truly beautiful action sequences and a really great performance by Mary Elizabeth Winstead. The only 3D movie I’ll ever endorse.— Anne Cohen (@anneesthercohen) September 18, 2019
Just saw the final cut of Ang Lee’s #GeminiMan and it’s probably the only movie I’d ever say absolutely must be seen in 3D (and 4K, if possible). I’ve never seen anything like it — it felt like I was inside the movie.— Jordan Zakarin (@jordanzakarin) September 18, 2019
GEMINI MAN is a technical marvel. In its high frame rate of 120fps, the action sequences legitimately took my breath away. The 20-year-old script leaves something to be desired but seeing a young Will Smith pull off the dramatic moments was a treat.— Hoai-Tran Bui (@htranbui) September 18, 2019
Last thought (for now): Gemini Man may be a Jerry Bruckheimer production, but it's absolutely an Ang Lee movie. Adjust your expectations accordingly. pic.twitter.com/fUavsiD6YS— Ethan Alter (@ethanalter) September 18, 2019
Can't wait to rewatch this to dissect the action, there's a motorcycle chase that feels as visceral as the cab chase from Bourne Supremacy, whew— Devindra Hardawar (@Devindra) September 18, 2019
Gemini Man in 120 FPS 3D is a true event film, friends. Late 90s action mold filled with everything Ang Lee brings to the table.— Matt Patches (@misterpatches) September 18, 2019
Judging by these responses, Gemini Man is much more successful at using HFR visuals to make its action sequences feel immersive and realistic than Lee's previous exercise in HFR storytelling, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. Similarly, it sounds as though the director's 3D filmmaking has only grown more sophisticated since his efforts on his Oscar-winning Life of Pi adaptation from 2012. More than anything, however, it appears that Smith's turn as his twenty-something clone is a sight to behold. The character is actually an all-digital creation based on Smith's motion-capture performance (rather than a de-aged version of the actor), which simply makes the CG effect all the more impressive.
That said, it remains to be seen if the rest of Gemini Man is as impressive as its technical aspects. The early reactions don't have a lot to offer in this regard, save for a couple comments about Gemini Man's script being weaker than its 3D visuals, and a separate tweet about Mary Elizabeth Winstead delivering a strong supporting performance in the movie. No doubt, the first official reviews will provide greater insight on these matters, but in the meantime it seems as though Gemini Man may end up going down as one of Lee's more successful cinematic experiments.
Source: Various [see the above links]
- Gemini Man (2019) release date: Oct 11, 2019